Alberta Politics

Making the Alberta Party relevant is Barry Morishita’s new job

Brooks Mayor Barry Morishita has been acclaimed as leader of the Alberta Party.

“As a compassionate leader and experienced community builder, I believe that a new, fresh approach to politics is what Albertans need right now and that the Alberta Party is the vehicle to drive that positive change,” Morishita said in a press statement released by the party.

Kaycee Madu Edmonton South West
Kaycee Madu (Source: Twitter)

Morishita was first elected to Brooks City Council in 1998 and became Mayor of Brooks in 2016 after previous mayor Martin Shields was elected as the Conservative Member of Parliament for Bow River.

He was elected President of the Alberta Urban Municipality Association in 2017 and was a vocal critic of the United Conservative Party government’s overhaul of municipal election laws, going so far as to describe relations between municipalities and then-Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu as “broken.”

This is not his first foray into provincial politics. Like other leaders of the Alberta Party, Morishita’s past political experience was as a member of another political party.

He ran for Nancy MacBeth‘s Alberta Liberals in Strathmore-Brooks in 2001, placing second with 15.5 per cent of the vote behind Progressive Conservative cabinet minister Lyle Oberg. He had previously been active with the Liberal Party as a delegate to the convention that chose Laurence Decore as party leader in 1988.

Lyle Oberg
Lyle Oberg

He also made a $300 donation to the PC Party in Strathmore-Brooks in 2014.

The small moderate conseravtive political party broke through into the Legislature in 2015 when leader Greg Clark, who worked as a Liberal Caucus staffer in his youth, was elected in Calgary-Elbow. Despite growing its popular vote, the party was shut out of the Legislature in 2019 under the leadership of former Edmonton mayor and PC cabinet minister Stephen Mandel.

The Alberta Party has languished in obscurity since the 2019 election, with interim leader Jacquie Fenske, a former PC MLA from Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, holding the reins until a permanent leader was named.

Doug Griffiths
Doug Griffiths

According to a report from the Morinville News, former Morinville Mayor and past AUMA President Lisa Holmes and former Battle River-Wainwright PC MLA Doug Griffiths are part of Morishita’s transition team.

The challenges facing Morishita and his party are steep:

  1. Make his party relevant. Rachel Notley‘s NDP have led in the polls since November 2020 and have a commanding lead in fundraising. It is going to be challenging for the Alberta Party to convince Albertans who want Jason Kenney out of the Premier’s Office that they are the credible alternative.
  2. Winning a seat in the next election and getting his party back into the Legislature. Brooks-Medicine Hat will be the natural place for Morishita to run but it will be an uphill climb to win in the lopsidedly conservative voting district currently represented by UCP MLA Michaela Glasgo.There will also be a by-election held in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche in the next six months following the resignation of Laila Goodridge, who is running in the federal election.

5 replies on “Making the Alberta Party relevant is Barry Morishita’s new job”

Mr Morishita is the second small-town mayor to be leader of the Alberta Party. Remember Glenn Taylor, AP Leader back in the early 2000s? Former Mayor of Hinton?

But the Jason Kenney UCP government is so irredeemably bad, any distractions from defeating them at the polls in 2023 must be removed. The Alberta Party & Alberta Liberal Party should stand down altogether, and leave the field to the NDP, for at least one electoral cycle, for the good of the province.

On the contrary, there is an incredible hunger for a credible alternative to both UCP and NDP. A party that is capable of filtering the best ideas from both sides of the spectrum and distilling it into policy that will serve Albertans in a logical, reasonable, sensible, workable manner is desperately needed. The first two years of UCP was spent undoing NDP. Policies and the first two years of an NDP term will be spent reversing UCP policies. Alberta cannot afford that kind of waste of time or resources. When the left and right sides of the spectrum spend their time throwing rocks at each other, it is the silent majority in the middle who take the hit.

I am looking to see a more robust approach to the future. Living in Airdrie is like living in Brooks as far as politics goes. UCP is very strong in the area. Once a Constituency group is formed I would be happy to become involved.

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